Tips to Run in Winter

So you want to run in winter weather?

Well, you’re in luck because I am sharing some of the stuff I learned over the years so that you can enjoy the beauty of your run in winter wonderland and save yourself from potentially dangerous or uncomfortable situations.

In this video, I share some important clothing advice to run in winter:

Safety tips to Run in Winter without incident

So now that you’re dressed appropriately to run in winter, make sure that you run safely.  Winter weather usually means that you are probably going out when it is darker than usual.  Here are some safety tips you should consider:

  • Run a pre-defined route.  If you plan your route ahead of time, then it becomes easier to find you if something goes wrong.   Try MapMyRun or GMap-Pedometer to map out your routes and then tell someone when you are going out and plan on being back.  You can even share your route with them via email or just save it.
  • Expect to go slower when you run winter.  On snowy/slushy roads, you shouldn’t be running as fast as on dry roads.  The surface is slippery and inconsistent – there could be soft and hard packed snow, dry and icy patches, etc.  Don’t take any chances on losing your footing.  You should always be looking ahead to “find your line” and keep an eye on the road 5 to 10 feet ahead of you.  That way you can react in time and not lose control.  The downside of this is you’ll run slower, but that’s okay.  Just enjoy your run and the wonderful winter landscapes!
  • Consider purchasing a headlamp.  I personally like the Petzl model because it is lightweight, it doesn’t bounce around on my forehead when I run, and has several led light intensity settings.  It is a completely different running experience when it is pitch black and the only light around is coming from your forehead!  You have to try it to understand but the limited field of vision phenomenon when you run in winter is really something you have to experience!  That said, make sure you have some reflective bands or fabric when running in the dark because any cars out in this weather will also have limited visibility.
  • If you run alone, make sure you have an id. on you and a cell phone or some change for an emergency phone call if you need help.
  • In loose snow or icy conditions, a run in winter can be a bit tricky and dangerous.  Last year a friend of mine fractured his tibia after slipping on black ice (youch!) and the year before, I twisted my ankle running over a snow bank that had a cinder block in it!  You just never know what’s in or under the snow so be careful.  You may consider adding a traction device like YakTrax, winter running shoes, or even making your own running studs.
  • You can also mix up your run in winter.  For example, I like to go on a highly aerobic snowshoe run one day, and then a long slow run another.  Then I’ll do some intervals on the treadmill, and some hills on a nearby trail.  There are a lot of possibilities so try out different things and find what works for you!
  • Don’t forget to bring adequate fluids when you run in winter.  Even if you think you aren’t sweating as much, you are.  So you need to rehydrate.  The problem is that your water might freeze on you before you drink it!  When I wear a fuel belt on long runs, I keep it inside my jacket.  Also, I don’t put cold liquid in my bottles.  I prepare my gear the night before and leave my bottles on the counter overnight. That way they are room temperature when I head out and won’t freeze into Popsicles!

Well, I hope you enjoyed the tips to make your run in winter safe and enjoyable!  Winter is a season that completely changes our surroundings.  It would just be a shame to miss out on the beauty it beholds!

Living with Purpose. Live Fulfilled.

p.s.  I hope you can encourage me to continue to run in winter and train for the Rome marathon by making a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Share Your Thoughts!


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3 Responses to Tips to Run in Winter

  1. Zutchelli Morales says:

    This is something that I myself have been wanting to do now… I believe I should try this myself.. Thanks a lot for sharing…

  2. Oliver Tausend says:

    Hi Patrick,

    awesome advice. I also run in any weather conditions. There’s no bad weather but only inappropriate clothing. You are right that even very cold temperatures aren’t that cold once we ran 10-15 minutes.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Take care


  3. Steve Nicholas says:

    Great advice, Patch! This is the first winter I’ve run in since 1999-2000, but these are great things to remember. I was surprised when I ran last week and it was snow-covered here in Philly and my pace was 30 seconds/mile slower than the day before. I still felt good, so no complaints, but it is amazing sometimes how we forget these things when it has been a while, but when we do it again, it almost feels like second nature.

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